The choice of a main dish for Easter is more flexible than it once was, and old traditions can survive comfortably with new. Now that turkeys are available all year, they sometimes replace or sit side by side with the traditional American ham. Of course, if you are of European descent you may well opt for lamb.
Ethnic groups, especially those from the Mediterranean countries, have some interesting lamb preparations.
In Greece, a baby lamb is spit-roasted over an open fire and basted with oil, lemon juice, and herbs. In the south of France, guests might be served roast lamb with a pur'eed garlic sauce.
Here are enticing Easter entrees from all three categories.
The first recipe for Ham With Chunky Strawberry Sauce is both pretty and appropriate for a fes-tive spring meal - especially for a brunch gathering or buffet, as it serves 24.
For a small family or two couples, Pressure-Cooked Ham With Orange Sauce and Sweet Potatoes is practical and attractive.
For the couple dining alone or the single person inviting a guest, Glazed Ham Steak, broiled and spread with a maple syrup-mustard mixture, has the connotation of spring. Smoked Ham With Chunky Strawberry Sauce 1 12-pound fully cooked smoked whole ham 3 pints fresh strawberries (divided) 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 10- to 12-ounce jar orange marmalade Watercress sprigs (garnish) Whole strawberries (garnish)
Remove skin and trim some fat from ham, leaving about 1/4 inch of fat. With knife, score fat covering on ham crosswise, just through to the meat, into 1-inch-wide strips.
Place ham on rack in open roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer into center of ham, being careful that pointed end does not reach bone.
Bake ham in 325-degree F. oven for 3 to 31/2 hours until thermometer reaches 140 degrees F. (15 to 18 minutes per pound).
About 30 minutes before ham is done, prepare strawberry sauce. Reserve 1 pint strawberries for garnish.
Hull remaining berries.
In 3-quart saucepan with potato masher or back of slotted spoon, mash berries.
Stir in brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, and orange marmalade.
Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens slightly and boils, stirring frequently. Serve ham on warm, large platter.
Arrange watercress and reserved whole strawberries around ham.
Serve with strawberry sauce.
Roast of Lamb, Greek-Style 1 8- to 10-pound leg of lamb, bone in* 3 cloves garlic, cut in quarters 1 cup marinade
*Roasting time with internal temperature: 10 to 12 minutes per pound for rare (145 degrees on meat thermometer), 15 minutes per pound for medium (155 degrees), 20 minutes per pound for well done (165 degrees).
Marinade: 1/2 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil 2 cloves crushed garlic 1 cup fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons dried oregano, rubbed between palms of hands to release oils 1 teaspoon dried rosemary 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Trim excess fat from lamb. Make six incisions on top of lamb and insert garlic slivers. Repeat on bottom side.
Place on rack in roasting pan. If using meat thermometer, insert in thickest portion of leg.
Cook 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 350 degrees F. Brush with marinade and continue cooking to desired doneness.
Baste liberally every 20 minutes. When done, remove from oven, and allow lamb to rest 10 minutes before carving.
Serves 6 to 8.
Ham Steak Glazed With Maple Syrup 1 10-ounce smoked ham steak 6 tablespoons pure maple syrup 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse-grained Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons butter or margarine 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
Preheat broiler. Place ham steak on broiler pan and broil until first side is hot, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil syrup, mustard, and butter in heavy, small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes.
Turn ham over. Spread with maple mixture. Sprinkle with thyme.
Broil until hot, about 1 minute. Cut steak in half and serve at once.
Serves 2. (Can be doubled or tripled.)
Pressure-Cooked Ham Slice With Sweet Potatoes 1 3/4-inch-slice ham, which is large enough to serve four, cut into serving pieces Whole cloves 1 tablespoon hot fat 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1/2 cup orange juice 1/2 cup water 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in halves 1 tablespoon cornstarch 2 tablespoons lemon juice or cold water
Press cloves into each cut of ham. Brown in fat in pressure cooker.
Add brown sugar, orange juice, and water. Add sweet potatoes. Cover pan.
Cook for 15 minutes at 10 pounds' pressure. Allow pressure to go down normally. Mix cornstarch with lemon juice. Add to boiling liquid.
Cook about 1 minute until clear.
Broccoli-Stuffed Easter Turkey 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms 1 cup chopped onion 1/2 teaspoon dried savory leaves, crushed 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 cups cooked chopped broccoli 1 14-ounce package herbed seasoned cubed stuffing 1 cup cooked wild rice 1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth 14- to 16-pound ready-to-stuff turkey, cleaned
To prepare stuffing, in 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, in hot butter, cook mushrooms and onion with savory and nutmeg until tender.
Remove from heat.
Add broccoli, stuffing, rice, and broth. Toss to mix well. Spoon stuffing mixture lightly into neck and body cavities. Fold skin over stuffing. Close with skewers. Tie legs.
On rack in roasting pan, place turkey breast-side up. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of meat between breast and thigh, not touching bone.
Roast, uncovered, at 425 degrees F. for 4 hours or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F. and drumstick moves easily.
Baste turkey occasionally with pan drippings.
When skin turns golden, cover loosely with tent of foil.
Serves 12 to 14.
Turkey Roulades Florentine 1 3-pound turkey breast portion 5 slices bacon 1/2 cup chopped onion 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed 1 1/2 cups milk 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained 1 2 1/2-ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained Butter or margarine, melted 1/3 cup shredded American cheese
Bone turkey breast. Butterfly turkey by splitting lengthwise about halfway through.
Spread meat open. At the V formed by the cut, make 2 more lengthwise slits perpendicular to the right and left of V.
Spread meat open. Place turkey between plastic wrap. Pound to 1/2-inch thickness.
(Turkey should measure about 8 by 11 inches.)
Cut up 2 slices bacon. Cook just until done.
Drain, reserving drippings. Cook onion in drippings until tender.
Blend in flour, tarragon, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add milk. Cook and stir until thickened.
Remove from heat. Combine 1/2 cup sauce, cooked bacon, spinach, and mushrooms.
Cover and chill remaining sauce. Place turkey skin-side down. Top with spinach mixture. Roll up. Secure with string. Place on rack in baking pan. Brush turkey with butter.
Bake, loosely covered with foil, in a 350-degree F. oven 11/2 hours. Uncover. Remove string. Lay remaining bacon slices over turkey.
Bake 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 180 degrees F. Meanwhile, stir cheese into remaining sauce. Heat through. Serve sauce with turkey.